Posted by: JDM..... | December 10, 2016

The “Hate Crime” designation……

may itself be a hate crime….

As with so many good ideas gone bad, the “Hate Crime” designation grew out of the monumental task faced by our society in the effort to erase left-overs from the Reconstruction era. The divide between people of African heritage, whose grandparents and great grandparents had most likely been born into slavery, and those of European ancestry who had been immune to such dehumanizing circumstances, remained vast at mid-twentieth century. The Civil Rights movement, begun on multiple fronts, including the school integration conflicts, Rosa Parks decision to defy convention and the Jim Crow laws to sit where she chose on a public bus, Martin Luther King’s peaceful resistance, and more, signaled that the proverbial line in the sand had been crossed for the last time.

The overall goal was to eliminate the barriers, both statutory and cultural, that still stood between African Americans and equal access to the Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. That part was easy to understand. The countless steps to be achieved in the process, and the details involved in approaching such a goal, were then, and continue to be, another story.

With no How-To book for reference, and humanity’s unimpressive track record when it comes to learning from the errors of history, it has been like more than sixty years of running barefoot and blindfolded through a cow pasture while trying not to step in anything unpleasant. You win some, you lose some.

Personally, I believe we have come a long way, though. Men and women of African heritage earning advanced degrees now enter professions and teach at institutions where their parents and grandparents did menial labor. They fill roles as corporate and political leaders in every field today. And yet, a visible segment of their own population remains behind, and that became an issue of importance as the federal government increased its involvement to try to help move things along.

That’s where I stepped off into the abyss and parted ways with what the invisible but present and powerful “PC Police”, and the mainstream media, seemed to be insisting that everybody believe and actively parrot.

There are a number of convincing arguments stating why we should continue to depend on massive bureaucracies and an associated private sector industry for administration of the ongoing “fight for equality.” I would argue that there are also many reasons to stop what we are doing and discover what momentum, and the people themselves, can achieve.

We use artificial aids and supports in order to facilitate the learning of many skills, from physical accoutrements like training wheels and “water wings” to live experts close at hand to take over should the student lose control. In every instance, the support must eventually be removed. The question normally is not if, but when. In the case of the movement to “equalize” individual access to the benefits supposedly afforded Americans by virtue of their citizenship as well as their humanity, there is no if, there is no when. For many reasons, it seems to have become an aspect of the social and political environment, and such things cannot normally be “planned” out of existence without the use of force and without being replaced with something of similar if not equal objectionability.

In any event, at some point just about any such movement or campaign tends to become self-defeating if not allowed to stand on its own. I am of the opinion that the Civil Rights Movement of the nineteen fifties has reached that point, and that continuing “as usual” from here on out will only result in growing inequity and dependency, quite the opposite of the original intent.

The concept of an entire category of crime prosecuted on the basis of “race” or personal beliefs and feelings is ludicrous. There was a time in recent memory when African Americans lived with the expectation that they would be bypassed, overlooked, and otherwise treated as semi-citizens solely on the basis of “race”. While most of the observable and measurable expressions of this culture have been eliminated, there exist pockets of ongoing belief in such a way of life. It is the criminalization of these deeper vestiges of the past that I believe are self-contradictory and self-defeating.

History is not devoid of earlier efforts to “engineer” cultures, religions, and other arenas of human existence. Such campaigns have always included violence, always committed “wrongs” in the name of doing “right”, and have universally failed, usually by being overthrown. The question of great importance today would be, do we simply wish to pass the baton again, or do we really want to do away with the reasons for doing so?

A Hate Crime describes a presumed mind-set or belief system and criminalizes it when such criteria are associated with selected alleged actions involving selected classes of individuals against another selected class of individuals. Is not such a family of law, by its own definition, a “Hate Crime”? It is discriminatory and intentional in its application and effect.

There are other reasons to do away with the secondary prosecution of crimes based upon a presumed set of circumstances which can neither be consistently described or observed nor consistently measured. The trend can already be observed wherein minority victims of crimes very often jump almost immediately at the “Hate Crime” brass ring because it has Big Guns behind it, i.e. the federal government, and it is endorsed and encouraged by the “PC Police.”

This breeds a dependency and actually defines the minority in question as unequal. If existing crimes were prosecuted on their own merit alone, sometimes there would be convictions and sometimes there would be acquittals, just as there are with anybody else. Creating crimes to create laws to make a prosecutor’s job simpler does nothing for the alleged victim.

I would like to be able to say that the “Hate Crime” designation and its associated freight have outlived their usefulness, but there was never any place under our Constitution and presumed philosophy of governance for prosecuting an alleged crime a second time based on how the defendant is deemed to have felt about the victim. Perpetrators do not normally announce that they “hate” their victims prior to doing whatever it is they plan to do, nor do they generally provide any other oratory, though they may have at other times and other places. Such issues fall under the First Amendment and have no place in a court of criminal law.

The “Hate Crime” Was created to provide leverage to prosecute someone who might not otherwise be prosecuted or might not be prosecuted to the extent desired by those doing the prosecuting.

It has occurred to me that charging a person with a “Hate Crime” is in its own right a kind of “Hate Crime” in that it is discriminatory in both intent and application. Only certain classes warrant hate crimes being tacked on to the underlying felony. It doesn’t matter what a perpetrator may verbalize at the time of the offense. The case is built on the presumption that, because the accused belongs to a selected class and meets certain criteria, and the accuser or victim belongs to another selected class, the crime must have committed on the basis of hatred.

This is a misapplication of the term referring to a family of negative emotions because it isn’t, in fact, the emotion being prosecuted but the presumed intent some associate with that emotion. In other words, a rural southerner with a Confederate flag on his shirt is more likely to be charged with a hate crime than a northerner in a suit and tie when the respective underlying felonies they are alleged to have committed are in all other ways identical.

We could argue this point until the end of time, but I’ll not see “Hate Crimes” as anything but Medieval regardless of how many legal sharpshooters try to stare me down. Similarly, I don’t expect their game to change any time soon either. It should.

If the stated goal is, as it has supposedly been for half a century, to remove the moat between African Americans and those of European heritage, we need to stop acknowledging the moat as legitimate and we need to stop giving it real power.

When one human being assaults, kills, robs, or commits some other crime of violence or property against another, the crime itself doesn’t change because of secondary personal factors that without the felony would be irrelevant on their own merit. Tying the two together smacks of double jeopardy even though the parsers and verbal gymnasts of the legal field surely gift wrapped that one ages ago.

It has often been observed that in order to preserve our freedoms, we must also preserve the obnoxious and offensive. The racially based “Hate Crime” is a case in point. Being a member of some fringe group doesn’t change the nature of a crime committed. It may add insult to injury, so to speak, but the insulting is not a crime in its own right.

Actor Morgan Freeman summed it up best when he remarked that if we wanted to get rid of racism we should stop talking about it.

Still don’t agree with me? Okay, try this. Pick out an individual in your life, perhaps a co-worker, and every time you encounter that person that day, wrinkle your brow and ask them if they are alright. Make some observation about them not looking so hot that day. Keep it up. The person may not collapse of some presumed dire illness by the end of the day, but I guarantee they will be affected and will go home wondering if maybe there is something going on that they don’t see. It’s true. When I was an errant teen growing up outside of a major eastern city, my friends and I, when we would venture “downtown”, would sometimes stop on a street corner and begin staring up in the air. By the time we walked away, a number of people were staring upward trying to figure out what had been seen. People are very easily led.

My point is, the whole idea of “racism”, which I have questioned since I took an Anthropology course in college, long before it was even a popular concept, is kept alive by many of our very efforts to curb it. The “Jim Crow” laws are gone. There is no benefit to replacing them with a mirror image manner of thinking. We need to take down such scaffolding and “temporary” supports and let us all face the consequences of our action on an equal basis.

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories